Written by Xinran, whose previous book “The Good Women of China” was an international best seller, this true tale introduces us to Shu Wen, a native of Nanjing, who marries during the Cultural Revolution and is to join her husband, who has been s
ent to assist with the “liberation” of Tibet.
As a member of a military medical unit, she is ready to depart to meet up with him, only to receive a communiqué that he has been killed – somewhere in Tibet.
Grief-stricken, yet initially refusing to believe the sparse reports of his demise, Wen travels with her unit to Tibet to find him, and if necessary, bring his body home. However, upon being involved in fighting with Tibetans, she is separated from her unit and is taken in by a nomadic Tibet family. As her medical skills begin to have an impact on the families lives, she also begins the long and slow process of assimilation with them, gradually leaving her Chinese-ness behind (initially they cannot even communicate with each other), starts to understand Tibetan, and starts to live a nomadic life – yet always with her heart set on finding out the story of what became of her husband, leading to a startling and climatic redemption and understanding of a man who is finally proven to have lived and died as a hero – to the Tibetans as well as the Chinese.
Xin Ran has produced a well written book, sensitively told, steering clear of the political issues between both communities and showcased a story that demonstrates that perhaps, with better understanding, relationships between China and Tibet still have common ground, if only this can be worked on. A plaintive love story also for a long dead Chinese soldier, this book will remain in your hearts for a very long time.